THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government is going the extra mile to rein in COVID-19 pandemic by constituting a five-member committee to explore the possibility of setting up a vaccine manufacturing unit(s). The units will operate with the drug manufacturing licence of pharmaceutical companies
The committee headed by T Jacob John, former head of the Departments of Clinical Virology and Microbiology at Christian Medical College, Vellore, will hold talks with the firms and examine the possibility of setting up manufacturing unit (s) through their licence.
“Mainly three pharmaceutical companies in the country — Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila — have come forward with the claim of developing a vaccine against COVID-19,” said an officer of the health department.
Vinod Scaria, senior scientist, Institute of Genomics and Integrated Biology, New Delhi; M D Nair, consultant to the pharmaceutical industry; B Ekbal, member, Kerala State Planning Board; and Dr R Aravind, Infectious Diseases Department MCH Thiruvananthapuram who is the convener of the committee, are the other members.
At the same time, sources said the government had held talks with Bharat Biotech, and on the basis of its letter on September 15, the chief minister himself had chaired a meeting on conducting vaccine trial.
“The terms of reference have been fixed for the committee. It states the committee will explore the possibility of establishing a vaccine production unit in the state and whether such a unit can be used for the manufacture of other protein-based biologicals such as enzymes and cancer drugs. It will look into collaboration possibilities for vaccine production,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, a member of the committee said the panel would examine and analyse areas such as logistics, supply, storage and inoculation.
“Besides production, the other challenges for Covid-19 vaccine distribution are logistics and supply. It will also have to be decided how, when and where to carry out the inoculation exercise. Along with that, it will also have to be examined whether the state has the financial capacity, technology and manpower to run the manufacturing unit smoothly,” said the member. Earlier, the state had initiated measures for making available the vaccine to healthcare workers upon a directive from the national expert group on COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID recovery tally set to touch 5 lakh mark
Those who recovered from Covid-19 is about to touch the five lakh mark in the state as the current tally stands at 4,94,664. The total cases reported were 5,62, 695.
At the same time, the recovery cases exceeded the daily new cases for the 15th day in a row. The state on Sunday reported 6,227 cured cases and 5,254 fresh cases.
At present there are 65,856 active cases. The Covid death tally has touched 2,049 after the day confirmed 27 more deaths. The test positivity rate registered a slight spike with 10.94 percent as against 9.59 pc on Saturday.